Certainly, Amarone is expensive due to supply and demand, but it's also due to the unique production method used to make these wines. Made from partially dried grapes (mainly Corvina, but also Corvinone, Rondinella, and others), it simply takes a lot of effort and time to produce, from hand-harvesting to long fermentations and aging. The result is a powerful, expressive wine of concentration and density. It's an effort that Josephine summed up as, "It's the Italian way, they don't fuck around."

This was our third comparison of Amarone della Valpolicella (the last was in April 2012), and we were once again impressed with the sheer power of these, but in our favorite bottles, also with how they could stay elegant.

Matt's second place bottle was also our best value of the night, at "only" $50, a price point that's difficult to find in this appellation.

Though all the wines were very good to excellent, our bottom two were a bit heavy and syrupy for most of our tastes, as well as being a whopping 17% alcohol. In fact, these two turned out to be the same bottling, something that many of us guessed would be the case.

Not surprisingly, these paired well with stronger, washed rind cheese.

First Place:  Speri Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Vigneto Monte Sant'Urbano 2013. A floral nose, but also notions of wet wool, dark black grapes, violets, violet leaf, something stemmy, wet meadow, and wet basement. This had a sense of elegance to it, being gentle with an explosion of brightness, then spicy on the finish. Tasters found flavors of mulling spices, red apples, burning ember, and frankincense. Nice tannins and flavor intensity. Kristin, David, Ali, and Andy's favorite of the night. Received 29 total points. Ali's bottle. About $84.

Second Place:  Corte Rugolin Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Crosara de le Strie 2010. Scents reminiscent of brown sugar, Sambuca, concentrated cherry, licorice, malty beer, and chamomile. Josephine was reminded of "creamy caramel candies." Bright in the mouth, with flavors of cranberry, dried blueberries, and a bell pepper note on the finish, somewhat like Cabernet Franc. Good acidity, and stays honest, with a beautiful mouthfeel. Josephine's favorite. Received 22 points. Matt's bottle. About $50.

Third Place:  Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2013. A musty nose, offering scents of tire shop, diaper, something vegetal, dill, inner tube, dark chocolate, bubble gum, black olive, and a hint of damp basement. Josephine was reminded of peppery olive oil, while Ali found "old, wet sneaker". Matt felt that it was "kind of a train wreck." The palate was much more enjoyable than the nose, however, with notions of chocolate, prune, and cherries, allied with plenty of acidity. Velvety texture. Josephine admired its "good architecture." Pretty and soothing. Mint and eucalyptus on the finish, where there's uplift and vibrancy. Matt's favorite. 13 points. David's bottle. About $80.

Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Costasera 2010. Tasters found aromas of cough syrup, smoke, prune, cranberry, cherry, a little tobacco leaf, wild cherry cough syrup, cedar, and saw dust. A little musty, and definitely toasty. Rich palate, reminiscent of bacon, smoke, candied orange peel, cherries, currants, and citrus. Licorice and tomato skin on finish. There's an elegance to it, with bright acidity adding refinement. Everyone gave this at least one point, for a total of 12. Andy's bottle. About $80.

il Roverone Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2013. Acetone on the nose, plus dry erase marker, stewed tomato out of a can, freshly cut stems, chrysanthemum, a little wood, and wet pine needles. Metallic. Matt detected "a touch of sewage." Fruity in the mouth, and kind of like a cough drop, there's a sweetness to it. Syrupy, with notions of ginger, sharp spices, raisins, licorice, salted caramel, molasses, and concentrated cherry. Thicker and heavier than most. 4 points. Josephine's bottle. About $60.

il Roverone Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2013. A little acetone, plus aromas of pine, almond extract, and ecualyptus. Leafy. This burned Ali's nose a little, saying, "I feel like i just inhaled a candle flame." Josephine was reminded of styrax, while Andy detected honey ham. Tasted of candied fruit and cherries, this was mouthcoating and syrupy sweet. Port-like, with apple cider type sweetness, and a licorice finish. Very in your face. 4 points. Kristin's bottle. About $60.

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